Business owners vent frustration over 'lack of transparency' in reopening plans

Andrew Hyman
Created: May 28, 2020 11:51 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — On Thursday, several business owners across a variety of industries statewide were expecting Governor Cuomo to announce the start of Phase Two reopening in New York.

It did not happen. 


Instead, on WAMC’s Northeast Public Radio, Cuomo said after Phase One ends Friday, health data would have to be analyzed by experts before making a decision to move forward.

Livingston County reported Phase Two could start on Saturday.

This news comes as some local business owners we spoke to told us they were frustrated over what they say, is a lack of communication and transparency.

"Everyone is very anxious," President for Howard Hanna of Western New York Fred Corsi said.

For the last several months, relators have used virtual real estate tours and operated 100% remotely, and while Corsi says the homebuyers' market is booming, agents are ready to start easing back to business like before. All they need is the green light from the governor.

Which is something they don't have.

It’s the same deal across all industries that are supposed to reopen under Phase Two, including barbershops.

We spoke to Gil Vargas, who owns and operates GVIII Barber Shop on Monroe Avenue in Rochester.

Vargas says his industry does require an up-close and personal experience, to which he and several other shop owners have developed safety plans. Like others, he expected to get the nod Thursday, though, he did have his doubts.

"In one sense, I understand [The state’s decision] but it is frustrating because we want to get our businesses back open so we can provide for our families," Vargas said.

And it’s not just frustration over an opening date, but what businesses can operate. 

"I feel like my emotions are lifted, and then they're squashed," Deanna Cahill said.

Cahill runs the Brow Diva in Pittsford.

They had plans to open June 2, but now they're not even sure if Phase Two includes them. She assumed she fell under ‘professional services,’ which now appears to be listed as ‘limited barbershop and hair salon services.’

"I don't know what to do, and that's the biggest frustration," Cahill said.

Though through the frustration, there is a want to wait.

We spoke with Jes Sutton, who serves as the Chief Creative Operating Officer for Rochester’s Barbetorium.

He’s worked with several area salons and barbershops to help formulate their safety plans.

Sutton says he feels the frustration of his industry, though he’d like to see the state release specific health and business guidelines before beginning the next phase.

"Okay, here's your guidelines, you have four, or six days to train yourself, to train your staff," Sutton said.

Regardless of when the next phase will actually start, Corsi says business may not be so speedy.

"We’ll implement all the safety precautions that are mandated, and then some,” he said. “But if people don't want to, or are not comfortable, we're perfectly fine with that."

News10NBC reached out to both Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, and Finger Lake’s Region head Bob Duffy, Bello did not return our request, and a spokesman for Duffy says he is waiting on further guidance from Governor Cuomo, and the Empire Stare Development Corporation. 

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